Several employees of a Catholic college in California, Loyola Marymount University, are taking Governor Jerry Brown’s administration to court over its attempt to force Catholic institutions to provide abortion as part of their insurance coverage.

The state declared that all abortions are “medically necessary” and therefore must be covered.

The Alliance Defending Freedom and Life Legal Defense Foundation filed a formal complaint Thursday with the Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of seven employees of the Catholic university, telling the department that federal law bars states from discriminating against insurance providers who offer plans without abortion coverage…

The so-called Weldon Amendment blocks states from receiving certain federal funds if they discriminate against insurance providers for not covering abortion.

The California department “purports to be interpreting and applying the law of California, a state that receives an enormous amount of ‘funds made available in this Act’ in this and recent appropriations” of Congress, the letter told the Department of Health and Human Services. “The need to remedy this discrimination is urgent because it is immediately depriving [the employees] of a health plan that omits elective abortions.”

In a Sept. 8 response to a letter from the alliance and foundation that California was not only violating federal law but also misinterpreting its own state constitution, Shelley Rouillard, director of the California department, didn’t specifically counter those groups’ analysis.

Rouillard said California law dating to 1975 “requires health plans to cover abortion as a basic health care service” and the state constitution requires them to “treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally.” Her response was included in the groups’ complaint to the federal government.

“No state can ignore federal law and continue to unlawfully receive taxpayer money,” said the alliance’s Casey Mattox in a press release. “So California has a choice: Stop forcing these employers to cover abortion or forfeit the tens of billions of dollars it receives under the condition that it follow the law.”

We should all be grateful to those employees, including professors Chris Kaczor and Jim Hanink at LMU, willing to fight this very important fight.

The Cardinal Newman Society has been very proactive in this fight and you should probably check them out for updates as well.

Remember the California is often just the first state to do these kinds of things. If California wins, be assured we’ll be seeing this in many other states.

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